A dilapidated boat that was taking up too much space in the backyard takes a father-son duo to the Sunshine Coast on a journey to convert the ship into a “floating school bus”.
The boat sat in the back of his Yandina workshop for years, “growing plants and taking water”.
But owner Dean Frith and his son Beau said sending it to a landfill was not an option.
The pair, who were originally boat builders, initially considered either dismantling it and disposing of it or converting it into a working boat and selling it.
Then Dean had another idea.
,[Dad] It was like, ‘Hey, listen, we really believe in recycling and trying to do everything we can to repurpose something…'” Beau said.
Floating School Bus Project
Beau said the boat would be used to pick up schoolchildren from nearby islands and take them to a boarding school on the island of Aore.
But the ongoing work – called the Floating School Bus Project – will also have benefits for the wider community.
This would provide greater access to the creek system and travel to other remote areas.
“fact [is] So that they can take volunteers from the main island to the school as well as get building materials and other things to the island.”
He said the school’s current boat was slower, more suited for transporting large items and was “in one state”.
“It definitely needs a little bit of work to be able to get to the point where it’s back to sea,” Beau said.
Vanuatu ‘gets in your blood’
Dean said he volunteered at a boarding school four years ago with another Sunshine Coast group that regularly visits Vanuatu.
He hasn’t returned since, but said that the place and the people hold a special place in his heart.
“Once you go there, it’s in your blood. People are so cute. They’re extremely shy people,” Dean said.
The merchant said that sharing those skills with the island community had a huge impact.
“You can show them how to do concrete, or screw in a roof or build a boat — you show them, and they learn so fast, it changes their lives,” he said.
ship by boat
Beau said that the boat – which he likened to a “Ut” on the water – would be loaded into a shipping container once completed.
But it won’t be the only item that shipped.
“A big part of what we love to do [is] Try and give back as much as we can,” Beau said.
He said construction material, clothing or anything else of use would be loaded so that the container was not half-empty.
But he said the finished product may still be a year away.
“We’re just getting away with it by using extra materials and things we have available, but winter is always a great time for us because it’s our slowest period.”